The Ruy Lopez Chess Opening Explained
The Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular openings in all of chess!

The Ruy Lopez Chess Opening Explained

CHESScom
CHESScom
Jan 1, 2018, 12:00 AM |
7 | Opening Theory

The Ruy Lopez (also known as the Spanish Opening) is a chess opening enjoyed by chess players from complete beginners to the world champion, Magnus Carlsen! The opening bears the name of Ruy López de Segura, a Spanish priest from the 16th century who published a book on chess in the year 1561.

Libro de la invención liberal y arte del juego del ajedrez de Ruy López de Segura (1561).

Ruy Lopez' book "Libro de la invención liberal y arte del juego del ajedrez" was the first one to give a name to the Spanish Opening. | Dutch National Library

Let's take a look at the moves that bring about this popular opening.

There is a large amount of opening theory for all of the variations shown in the above diagram, and some lines can go as deep as 30 moves! The opening is full of strategic and tactical opportunities for both White and Black.

The first recorded modern chess game featuring the Ruy Lopez opening was played in 1803 between Hermann Victor Hesse and an unknown player.

Several notable games include:

Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914 (1-0)

World Champion Emanuel Lasker selected the "Exchange Variation" for this critical game against the up-and-coming Jose Capablanca. Lasker played a brilliant positional game, seizing space, and establishing strong knights. Lasker's victory in this game affirmed his status as the pre-eminent chess player in the world for years more.

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918 (1-0)

One of the most famous opening innovations of all time, the Marshall Gambit, was introduced by Marshall in this game. Despite the ensuing popularity of this gambit, brilliant defense by Capablanca delivered a famous and beautiful victory in the face of Marshall's aggression.

Kasparov vs Karpov, 1990 (1-0)

World Champions Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov have almost certainly contested more brilliant games than any other two chess players in history. In the 20th game of their 1990 match for the world championship, Kasparov won this brilliancy in classic "Spanish" style, securing a two-point lead with four games to go. He would win the match and secure the world championship title for the coming decade.

Want to learn more? ➨ Learn about the Ruy Lopez in our Opening Explorer!

Ruy Lopez, Spanish Opening, Ches Openings, Chess Training

Share your favorite Ruy Lopez games in the comments below!

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